untung99.biz: QB Stetson Bennett under Rams microscope in preseason opener

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For the last five years, Rams starters and other impact players stationed themselves along the sideline for preseason games wearing sweat suits and caps.

On Saturday, when the Rams play the Chargers at SoFi Stadium, quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive lineman Aaron Donald will not break from tradition.

The trio — with a combined salary-cap number of $63.4 million — is expected to remain ensconced out of harm’s way.

That probably also will be the case for veteran starters such as offensive lineman Rob Havenstein and tight end Tyler Higbee, and up-and-coming linebacker Ernest Jones.

But other players the Rams expect to rely on, players that were held out of preseason games last season, might find themselves in for a few snaps — or perhaps more.

With the Rams coming off an embarrassing 5-12 finish last season, and with nearly 40 rookies on the roster, coach Sean McVay has indicated that he might play more front-line players in preparation for the Sept. 10 opener at Seattle.

Coming off a 5-12 season instead of a Super Bowl title, Rams coach Sean McVay has to change his mindset with a roster of untested players and many stars gone.

“It will be very different than kind of what we’ve been accustomed to,” McVay said of the preseason approach.

The Rams also play the Las Vegas Raiders and the Denver Broncos in preseason games. Stafford, Kupp, Donald and other starters will participate in joint practices with those teams before the games..

Five things to watch when the Rams play the Chargers:

Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett readies to pass during Rams training camp

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Is Stetson Bennett ready to back up Matthew Stafford?

The Rams do not require an answer until the opener, but Bennett showed promise during training camp workouts.

Bennett, who led Georgia to consecutive national titles, appeared unfazed by mistakes. He rebounded with productive plays from inside and outside the pocket.

Fifth-year pro Brett Rypien might start against the Chargers because of experience and seniority but he is viewed as a short-term acquisition, not a potential Stafford successor.

Also keep an eye on Dresser Winn. During training camp, he surpassed the “camp arm” designation of a fourth quarterback by making multiple plays.

Do the Rams have depth behind running back Cam Akers?

Akers, coming off three consecutive 100-yard rushing performances to end last season, probably will not take a preseason snap.

The question is whether McVay exposes second-year Kyren Williams to potential injury.

Williams, a fifth-round draft pick in 2022, sat out eight games last season because of injuries. He appeared physically sound during training camp.

Ronnie Rivers, rookie Zach Evans and recent veteran addition Royce Freeman probably will get the bulk of the work.

The Rams’ secondary is young and inexperienced, so adding a veteran safety in John Johnson (a former Ram) gives stability and leadership to back end of defense.

Is the offensive line better than last season?

It can’t be worse.

Yes, the Rams suffered injuries galore in 2022, but remember: The Buffalo Bills amassed seven sacks in the opener.

Alaric Jackson and Joe Noteboom had been rotating at left tackle, but Jackson appears to have the edge in light of Noteboom also working at right guard. Both will continue to be evaluated during joint practices with the Raiders and Broncos.

Rookie guard Steve Avila, the Rams’ second-round pick, worked as the starting left guard throughout training camp. McVay said Avila will play in the preseason.

Last season, offensive lineman Logan Bruss — the Rams’ top pick in the 2022 draft — suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second preseason game. The third-round pick has recovered and played guard and tackle during training camp.

Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (right) battles Earnest Brown IV during training camp.

(Wally Skalij /Los Angeles Times)

Can young defensive linemen step up?

Unless the Rams add a veteran or two after roster cuts throughout the league, Donald will be without an established wing man for the first time in his 10 seasons.

Nose tackle Bobby Brown and end Earnest Brown IV are among the veterans who could play larger roles. Rookie nose tackle Kobie Turner made a good impression during training camp.

Rookie edge rushers Byron Young and Nick Hampton will get opportunities to show they can complement Donald and outside linebacker Michael Hoecht.

Which receivers will make plays?

Rookie Puka Nacua impressed during offseason workouts and camp and appears on track to be a key part of the regular-season rotation with Kupp, Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek.

Veteran additions Demarcus Robinson and Tyler Johnson and 2022 preseason standout Lance McCutcheon can show McVay they are ready to contribute.